Thursday 16 May 2019

What Colossal Spiritual Forces

          When I review my experience of meditation, I am drawn to the conclusion that as one rises up through the levels of meditation experience, one notices something rather interesting. As projection follows projection, the experience acquires characteristics appropriate to that level of the experience. Compared with the mysterious ultimate these characteristics may seem to be like contaminants being absorbed by the spirit. More than that, they influence how we think and feel about matters of the spirit. Perhaps one of those contaminants, or acquired characteristics, is that what was an experiential process at the deepest levels becomes personalised at the higher levels, such as God as a loving father, God as a vengeful judge, or perhaps the Christ as a near human being.  Thus an experience which is without form at the deepest levels acquires or takes on a humanoid form, but one not yet fully human, as one heads to surface consciousness. Finally, a fully human form is experienced as recorded in myths, legends and spiritual/philosophical writings such as the Bible.
          Without these humanised allusions to the everyday world around us, I seriously wonder whether it could ever be possible to cope with the enormity of absolute truth, with the enormity of the naked Godhead. Maybe as creatures at our present phase of evolution we are simply not ready. Perhaps we still need the parable, the 'as if' approach to understanding that which is inherently not understandable in order to cope with the apparent, virtual realities of life. We live at the centre of paradox which may always remain thus.
           Space-time is a powerful concept, almost overpowering in its implications. Yet if the space-time continuum is a projection of some deeper psycho-spiritual, timeless continuum, then the latter must be at least as powerful as the former continuum. Every thought, every emotion, every feeling and experience would cause a warping in the psycho-spiritual continuum. All subsequent experiences would be affected by those warps just as the 'contaminants' mentioned above influence our responses to experiential phenomena.
          I must remember to try to imagine what that means: try to imagine what colossal spiritual forces are hidden in our minds, beyond our understanding and, I suppose, our imaginings.
          I am aware that this post must come across as rather disjointed and perhaps confusing. I am also aware that I need to get these musings recorded before I lose them. Such as they are, therefore, they represent my efforts to confront some kind of inner reality that seems to insist on remaining hidden.

Thursday 25 April 2019

I Will Return

          There is darkness through which I move.....vast planes of darkness which slide and intersect each other, that intersect with me.....yet we are one.....we are the Abyss.
          I am alone.....and I question endlessly, yet am content.....stars which are not, flow down and through my fingers and hands which I have not.
          There is energy and power.....overwhelming in their intensity.....yet I am safe; I am unconcerned.
          There is no light, yet I see. I am alone, yet I am not lonely. I am so young, yet have had my being forever. I know not, yet do not need to know, but I ask.....endlessly I ask.....and I live and move.
          I must return.....I must pass down the valley.....die into the world of the physical for a little while longer. And I must remember, for I will return to a where that is nowhere.....for I AM.

Monday 15 April 2019

Is This God?

          This is not the post I had intended to write but, rather, the one I feel needs to be written. I have written in the past about the ego and the Higher Self and also a rather shadowy self that appears to be about a sense of I-ness. It is that which appears to be associated, or identified, with both the real or higher self and also the lower self or ego but never simultaneously. It is always an association or a state of 'either/or'. In the light of my recent return to my thoughts about physics, one might describe that association either in terms of particles or of waves. In short, the sense of I-ness shares much with the quantum uncertainty principle.
          When I consider the ego, it is more than simply a system associated with morality or with my persona. It is as if the ego has expanded to include the totality of my engagement with the realist world around me. Yet one feature of that engagement is its essential duality. I am the observer of that world, not an entity which is indissolubly part of that world. And I can enter that state at will.
          When I consider the Higher Self, I realise that that state is the only true me, the only true and real self in any meaningful way. Only in that state which seems to be offered to me, rather than my claiming it when and where I choose, can I experience anything that I choose to call God.
          In one of his books, "What Is God?" the lovely Prof. Jacob Needleman describes an occasion when a close relative has died, and young Jacob is sitting on a step with his father. His father looks up at the night sky and utters the words, "That is God". Since reading that book I have often wondered what experience lay behind those words. It seems to me, now, that it was a heightened experience by that part of one's being associated with what has been called the True Self in which duality has disappeared, or has been removed by something beyond consciousness, and in which one is at-one-ment with the universe. That experience cannot be defined: it is what it is.
          The clues and experiences have been cropping up throughout the second half of my life; I have written about them here on Gwynt; but they have become spread out, dispersed; they almost demand to be brought together and experienced as a totality. Yet I cannot do that right now. That experience of totality, that experience of being absorbed into God, is too big, too overpowering. It excites me to the depths of my being, but it also scares the hell out of me. And maybe that is precisely the point.

Monday 8 April 2019

Movement But No Passing

          Over a period of one week at the end of the year 2005, whilst meditating on the vast spiritual reservoir "in which man lives and moves and has his being", [Acts of the Apostles 17:28] I made the following notes which, perhaps, are more relevant to my current thinking than to my faltering thoughts of those more distant days. I should add that the words I used were not mulled over, carefully thought out, but were recorded as they came spontaneously to mind. I suspect they were, therefore, more authentic and closer to the original experience than they would have been if my notes had been carefully constructed.

1.        "My spirit seems to be free to move where it will, like a wisp of smoke dancing on the surface of the deeps. Yet my world is constrained to move along a pre-ordained path, like a planet moving through a dimly-lit cosmos. I am subject to its spiritual laws. It is calm, alone, spheres within spheres."

2.        "I sense struggle, a longing. Something is trying to be heard, but I cannot hear what I see; it continually eludes me. Words seem frustratingly pointless, inadequate. The equal-armed cross hangs in the background, waiting."

3.       "It seems as if only my experience of my Higher Self, or God is truly real; all else is virtual, images. I move through life in a state of alone-ness, in the company of other 'alones'. This spiritual reservoir in which I move has both negative and positive aspects: the blind coexists with the aware. All opposites coexist and are one."

4.       "There is an image before me, now steady and unchanging. I see it during my waking hours: I awake in the night 'seeing' it. Below me a planet of water moves silently through the cosmos. A wisp of purple smoke dances on the surface of the waters; shadows glide below the surface. In the distance is the centre of my galaxy, bright like a cosmic sunset. All the while a silvery-white cross hangs in space. There is movement but no passing. There is serenity, timelessness."

5.       "The universe is a system of cohesive forces and includes all living creatures. What I perceive as real through my sense organs and brain is illusion because my perceptions are limited by the nature of my brain. Solidity then is illusory, being an effect produced by the repulsion of like atomic forces. What then am I? How can I really be aware?"

6.        "The foot of a Qabalistic Cross stands in the 'world of water' with its head engulfed by a white light, not the sun. I see a boat on a lake moving into the mist; a juxtapositioning of Glastonbury and Avalon; a coming together of spacetime and the spiritual."

7.         "I have been here before; my mind is tired but I am not bored. The images of the past six days have become transparent, and I am enveloped in a white mistiness which extends as far as I can sense. It feels like a 'Cloud of Unknowing' of an intensity I have never felt before. I have been beset by images I have struggled to hear, and at some point beyond my conscious awareness I sense something is happening."

          I have reproduced my words from that time in full, because there may well yet be something to refer back to which I may have missed.

          To continue with one of the points I made in my previous post, "A State of Stillness", it seems as if an experience on one level of meditation is a projection of the experience at a deeper level. The final projection is that of the consciously sensed world around us. World in this sense is everything outside the mind. Reversing the process means that the deeper one can travel in meditation, the further one moves away from projection and the closer one comes to reality, an experience that approaches absolute truth, yet one which cannot be ideated or described.
          No word, idea or image is the truth. They are fingers, as it were, which point towards the truth. It is a grave mistake, therefore, to so concentrate on the finger that one loses the direction in which the finger is pointing. Ultimately, I suppose there must be a state where no images can exist, and one is left staring into the face of God as the eagle stares into the face of the sun. I would be that eagle. Yet prior to that final state there is one last image, the experience of the Abyss.
          I have said elsewhere that God is not in the Abyss; God Is the Abyss. It is as if the Abyss is the fundamental psycho-spiritual continuum of life, and maybe of all existence, that lies outside time. God is that vast spiritual reservoir "in which we live and move and have our being. We are his offspring." That reservoir or continuum permeates everything and may have preceded everything. It impinges on our daily lives at every turn, whether or not we are aware of it or even believe in it. It is hidden in plain sight. It is so close that most of the time we do not even sense it; but if it should end then, I am certain, the life of the spirit, of the mind would end also.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

A State of Stillness

          Reviewing some of my earlier posts drew me to the conclusion that projection may well be our normal and unavoidable way of thinking. Of course, this practice is rather frowned upon in certain circumstances by psychologists and psychiatrists. Nevertheless, it may be that we are stuck with this way of analysing our worlds, both inner and outer, if there is indeed any difference between the two. The problem is that we think and experience life in terms of symbolism.
          Thus when analysing my personal experience in, "I Am Only the Bearer" it emerged that an experience at the deepest level which I could access during meditation was projected onto a less deep level, until in the end these consecutive experiences were projected onto the realist world, which one often calls the 'real world' of consciousness. The problem is that in turning experience into symbols, the language of the unconscious mind, and thence into ideas we ultimately lose contact with the essence of the experience. What we are left with is something that is illusory and general and cut off, or removed, from the initial personal and particular experience.
          Unfortunately, in my opinion, we are all too often exhorted to act under the influence of the general and illusory conclusion, rather than stick with the initial and particular experience, which may lead us along a path of spiritual recovery and growth. That path is essentially non-egoistic, whilst the general activity is usually quite the opposite. Save the world? No, I am powerless to do that. Save myself? Now to that process I can have some input, and by God's grace have some success. [Success? ugh!].
          I find myself in a state of pregnant stillness at present, regardless of the political upheaval that is going on, and which is going to have a direct influence on my life. Somehow, I sense the need for a new assessment of my personal way forward. It is like standing in the eye of a hurricane, just waiting to get caught up in the winds of the spirit which will buffet me when the storm moves. [Where would I be without symbols?]
          If this post seems to be vague and disjointed, it is because that reflects my thoughts about my current inner life.

Monday 25 March 2019

The Kind-ness of Creation

           Let me say at the outset that I believe in the power of love. I have no problem with the principle of the 'brotherhood of man' or the 'sisterhood of woman', if one must categorise the human race in that way. I make this statement because I wish it to be quite clear that, regardless of the dysfunctional behaviour that is abroad all over the world, I am not anti-humanity only against their negative behaviour patterns.
          Now the Bible is littered with statements about love. In the Old Testament they seem, more often than not, to be about the individual and God. In the New Testament such statements are more about love between individuals. "Love one another as I have loved you" for example. This does, however, raise certain questions.
          How does one obey an injunction to love? How can one love to order? If it is indeed possible to do so then clearly, love is something other than what is usually meant by that often misused word. And what about, "Love your enemies." What does that mean? For me it can only mean treat others with the respect that you would like to receive from them.
          On a broader scale, the idea that one can love the whole world, interpreted literally, is totally beyond me if for no other reason than sheer impracticality. It makes little sense to me, a flawed human being, and seems to be asking for the impossible. How then has this idea found its way into our culture? I would suggest that it has done so through the agency of religion. Christianity, and I will speak for no other religion, has imposed a belief system on its followers which appears to be impossible by taking the sayings of Jesus the Nazarene [and some of the apostles] completely out of context.
          Did the Nazarene ever say that we should love the world? No. Whenever he and other New Testament writers talked about this matter they were inevitably talking to particular groups of people, and how they should treat each other within that group. Often the group was no larger than Jesus' disciples; sometimes it was simply a church community battling for spiritual survival in an ideologically and physically hostile world. We see the same kind of injunction of loving one another in Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-anon, Narcotics Anonymous and other groups. There, within the narrow confines of a group working for its own spiritual recovery, it works and can work very well.
          Is there a way that we can get out of that seemingly impossible injunction to love everyone? Perhaps the word that stands out most, when I think about love for one another, is "kind". Let us be kind to one another, for we are all of a kind. That kind-ness is shared with the rest of the animal kingdom for we are all part of that kingdom. Indeed, we share much with all the other and various life forms on this planet.
          Perhaps by paying focused attention on our own psycho-spiritual condition and recovery  we will, as a result, allow the rest of the world to heal. How wonderful it could be to believe, as a guiding principle, not in a brotherhood of man or a sisterhood of woman but.......... in the "Kind-ness of Creation." We might then be a little more respectful of the living world around us, and even humbly come to love it.

Monday 18 March 2019

Experience Beyond Understanding

          It was in 1992 that I carried out the following pathworking, that I first went onto a mountain to pray. The purpose of the exercise was to meet with an unspecified "wise one." At that time I saw that other presence as a Druid, rather than a Christ or Christic Self. Looking back to that time, I see that there is much that has some symbolic meaning, but I will comment on the one aspect of this inner journey which I think is the most important. Yet there remains much that can be inferred from this exercise. First, however, comes the description of the inner journey, or conversation.

..........I stood on a narrow track. The black, slick mountain of almost crystalline rock climbed away to my left to the summit. To my right lay a valley in deep shadow, filled with evergreen trees. From this vantage point high above the treetops, the valley appeared to be totally enclosed in the mountains. There was a harsh angularity about these slopes that contrasted with the soft roundness of the full moon. Yet there was also a feeling of cleanliness and purity about the mountains, uncluttered as they were by soil or pebbles. There was nothing to mar the slippery slopes glistening in the moonlight.
          I had difficulty keeping my footing on the slippery track as it wound its way along the mountainside. I continued for some distance until at last the track forked. The right fork continued on much as before, but I chose the left which climbed steeply, in deep shadow, towards a cave. At the entrance to the cave burned a fire. I approached with caution, then waited. I found there was something attractive, magnetic about the fire. I felt the drying heat on my face as it seemed to draw me closer. The desire to step into the fire strengthened steadily, but I resisted. To the right of the fire was a pile of logs which I began to feed to the fire, turning the flames from yellow to white heat. The desire to step into the flames and be purged, to experience catharsis, became overpowering. As I made to take those last steps into the fire, a tall figure dressed in a black, cowled robe appeared at the cave mouth. Though I saw a hint of nose and chin, the newcomer's face was virtually hidden in shadow.
          I opened a conversation by requesting access to my unconscious mind, a request that appeared to be well received. As the Druid touched my right shoulder we exchanged bodies. I became aware that the Druid had waited a long time for me to come, and also that the Druid's powers were not unlimited, though immeasurably greater than mine. We had both wanted this meeting for so long, and now that it had happened there was a sense of having arrived and been accepted. So we re-exchanged bodies.
          I was lost in silence, not knowing what to ask of the Druid. He reached into a large leather bag leaning against the wall at the cave mouth and drew forth a handful of ordinary-looking rock chippings and gave them to me. I carefully placed the apparently worthless gift in my pocket and turned to leave. I walked down the path, westwards, until once again I arrived at the fork. There I stopped to inspect the Druid's gift. The rock chippings had undergone a remarkable transformation. They had joined to form a composite of intensely beautiful, purple-violet crystals surrounded by a circlet of milky white. They seemed to hold such mystery and purity in their depths. They were life in inanimate form, were both weak and strong.
          I began to try to prise the crystal structure apart until my fingers began to bleed with the effort, and my finger bones began to break. So strong was the structure that it defied all my efforts to dismantle it. Then it was that I discovered that I could take the structure apart by lovingly willing the component crystals to slide along their fracture planes. Just as easily I could reassemble the structure. After continuing to dismantle and reassemble the crystals for some while, I saw at last in the depths of the crystal lattice a golden ring containing a single diamond. Around me had developed a mist of glittering particles which had emanated from the crystal, yet the structure had steadily grown larger and more beautiful..........

          "..........and drew forth a handful of ordinary-looking rock chippings and gave them to me.........." 
          At the time, I struggled to see the significance of a handful of apparently worthless collection of rock chippings. As time passed, however, I began to see that what passes as ordinary, run-of-the-mill, primordial even, in the realm of the superconscious mind is, in the world of consciousness, something precious and jewel-like. [I have before me a piece of amethyst to remind me for always of that experience.]
          There is much that could be said about the meaning of the amethyst image, its colour, and the appearance of the gold ring in its depths. But that would take too long. It is enough to say that what is represented relates to truth, knowledge, spiritual temperance and repentance, resignation and acceptance. I recall the characteristic 'let-it-happen-to-me' attitude of Mary, the legendary mother of Jesus. And the diamond? Light, life and incorruptibility.
          Spiritual truth, the kingdom of heaven, is not something that can be assailed with force. It requires that a recipient uses truth lovingly and respectfully. I say again, the spiritual life does not conform to dictat but responds only to persuasion. Only in that way can it grow and spread like a living entity. [It is not unlike the taking of five loaves and two fishes, sharing and spreading them and garnering what they become, far more than that from which they grew.]
          This truth, reality, authenticity, so common at the highest realms of our Christic Self, is experience beyond understanding. It is incapable of being subject to mere intellectual analysis. There is also something oddly alien and other-worldly about this kind of truth that is, paradoxically, both powerful and weak or fragile, that can be lived yet not understood. It is lived because it is Life.
          As the Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Monday 11 March 2019

Why Climb A Mountain To Pray?

Luke 3:21-22     .....and while He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him.....

Matthew 14:23  .....After He had sent the crowds away, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray.....

Mark 6:46           .....After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.....

Mark 1:35           .....In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.....

Matthew 5:1      .....Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when He was seated his disciples came to Him.....

Luke 5:15-16      .....But the news of Him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear Him and have their illnesses cured, but He would go off to some deserted place and pray.....

          These are just six of a relatively large number of instances where the New Testament talks of Jesus the Nazarene going to pray, or preparing to preach. It would appear that no two sources can ever agree about the exact wording of these quotes but, nonetheless, these passages are often taken to be literal truth.

Quote:          "The reference to going up a mountain prior to preaching [see fifth quote, above] is considered by many to be a reference to Moses on Mount Sinai. Lapide feels that the clumsy phrasing implies that this verse is a transliteration from the Hebrew, and that it was an exact replica of a passage describing Moses. Boring notes that the reference to Jesus sitting may be an allusion to Deuteronomy 9:9, where in some translations Moses is described as sitting on Mount Sinai." [Source - Wikipedia, Matthew 5:1]

          Of course it is quite possible that the Nazarene did take time out to do a little mountaineering or hill walking, although one doubts whether he was dressed or otherwise prepared for such exercise. There is a much more likely interpretation [in my opinion] of the passages quoted above, and that is that these trips were symbolic, a journey upwards into the higher regions of the mind. There is no doubt that the symbolism of the mountain or hill [and I would add that of an ascending flight of stairs, a ladder, or some other means of ascent] is very powerful and of great value in meditation. Similarly, the imagery associated with deserted or secluded spaces can be used in meditation to effect contact with higher processes of the mind. It is in these states of meditation that heaven opens and that the Holy Spirit can be said to descend. Only in these states can one truly escape the 'illnesses' of the chattering ego.
          One does not need to be a religious, to hold a belief in God, to carry out the kind of meditation or spiritual exercise apparently carried out by Jesus, that of mentally climbing a mountain to meet with a 'wise person' in whatever form that image appears. Not only is such a journey greatly uplifting and reinvigorating, but there may also be an added bonus of a gift, perhaps a simple pebble which changes into a precious stone embodying a truth as one descends to everyday consciousness.
          No, I do not believe that the stories of Jesus literally climbing high places, only and simply to commune with God the Father, are anything but elements of the Christ mythology. Guided imagery, pathworking, meditation with symbols, are so much more convenient and practical. And God, to revert to a more religious approach, is to be found in the inner space, not out in the realist and physical world. Heaven, in the form of enlightenment, is open to anyone who seeks.

Monday 4 March 2019

I Am Only the Bearer

          I would now like to go to a deeper level meditation, before bringing this series to a close. I can see no way at present to probe more deeply. Indeed, there may be a point beyond which one is not be able go, at least for now.

..........I arrived in a wood, illuminated by sunshine. It was a typically English, deciduous wood in springtime. It was so very lovely. Ahead of me in a clearing stood the doorway, the portal into the Temple. I began to walk forward, dressed still in my black habit and supported by my staff. Then I noticed that each of the four paths in and out of the wood, was guarded by a sphinx each facing the doorway; one to the south; one to the north; one to the east, and one to the west.
          On reaching the temple doors, I gently pressed against the dark bronze doors with a word of request. In my present state they seemed to be exceptionally solid, yet they opened inwards with barely a spoken touch. I stepped inside and approached the altar. The immediate impression was one of a sense of definable no-thing-ness, a space, an emptiness yet filled with planes of black perceptiveness. And I sensed a presence like a slight beat of great wings.
          The altar was discernible but filled with nothingness. Placed upon the altar was the transparent bowl filled with the equally transparent liquid. Some distance above the bowl hung a clear Chalice, but one through which I did not seem able to see. The Chalice was being held aloft by a figure made from shapes of nothingness. Apart from the fact that it had huge wings and human form clothed in flowing raiment, this figure had nothing about it that spoke of being human, only vaguely humanoid. It was far beyond the warmth of a human concept, yet implying great power.
          Fiery sparks, said to represent the energies of atoms, were now everywhere as if all the elements of all colours were permeated with the golden sparkle of atomic and subatomic energies in the darkest depths if intra-atomic space. Hints of a deeper level yet, where all is energy, imply a level at which the energy of life itself can be found.
          Slowly I rose upwards to the level of the Chalice, and held it in a shared grasp of that sacred non-object. It was tilted towards me. I believe I drank of its contents, but tasted nothing. Then I descended to the floor, and everything that was no-thing passed away. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that this life is not about me. I am only the carrier, the bearer, the altar on which that which lives its life through me is laid..........
          Energy, and I must assume that that includes the life energy which animates living structures, is related to mass and acceleration [in other words movement] which in turn implies temperature above absolute zero. If the universal life-force comes into being at a fraction of a degree higher than zero, where no known life-form can exist, then life-forms are not required to generate that life-force. Energy would appear to be self-generative. Could this not be the ultimate meaning of virgin birth, the subject we began with when talking about the virgin birth of Jesus the Nazarene?

Footnote:          The appearance of the sphinges came as a great surprise to me, having never crossed their paths, so to speak, in any earlier meditational pathworkings. Yet clearly their presence was significant because they were not props to guide my way to my inner temple. Of the Sphinx it has been said,

"..........To attain the goal which the Sphinx represents is to undertake the journey of purification.  This journey requires long, deliberate effort, motivated by the desire to reach the goal. What is this goal? It is the eternal marriage of Life and Light that love seeks and that the Sphinx represents. It is the Covenant, the purpose for Creation - its beginning, and the place of its return. When the soul reaches a certain stage in its own development, love calls it and inspires it to seek its own higher nature, moved by the stirrings within itself. Then a partnership takes place between human effort and Divine assistance in pursuit of this end. This partnership, this marriage of intention between God's purposes for humanity and human purpose is the meaning of the Covenant. It is also the motive force and the method for that which leads to it - the process of purification.........."

Monday 25 February 2019

Somewhere That Is No-where

          I have rarely found that a single meditation on any subject brings one to the very heart of the matter under investigation. It requires a number of meditations, each one being deeper than the one before, yet always related in some way. The series of meditations currently being reported began with the goddess Demeter, moved deeper into an interaction with Mary [the mother of Jesus], before experiencing her as an aspect of the psycho-spiritual self. Going now more deeply into this subject I will try to describe my symbolic surroundings, my inner journey/conversation and let them speak as they will. But first, a few pointers.
          To carry out this form of meditation, a pathworking, one needs some props along the way. In this case the props are a temple/church, some place of worship, but with no details given, and an altar. Anything else that spontaneously occurs is the true conversation, and to be greatly valued. Two further symbols that occurred simply showed that I was on the correct path. One symbol was a pair of Gothic, temple doors standing in isolation whilst the other was a crypt. Together they represented a gateway into the shadow of death, into prayer.
..........I discovered that I was walking towards the centre of a sunlit glade where there stood double bronze doors surrounded by a stone frame, but nothing else. They stood at the crossover point of four paths leading into the glade from each of the cardinal points of the compass. Pushing open the doors I entered what appeared to be a personal temple, a structure which had been non-existent from the outside. Before me lay an open, darkened crypt accessed by a ramp leading downwards. I walked down the ramp and found myself in a large space which appeared to extend without limit, outwards into darkness.
Immediately before me stood an altar on which stood a transparent bowl, so clear that it seemed to represent form without substance. In the bowl was a similarly clear liquid which I lit from hand fire. To either side of the bowl lay an ear of wheat. Behind the altar appeared a column of light which seemed to be alive. The darkness around me deepened, and with a slight sense of disorientation, I rose upwards above the altar and felt my hands reach out in front of me. In response I sensed a corresponding gesture from the glowing column, until our hands were clasped together. At that moment I discovered also that I was dressed in a black habit, symbolising obedience, chastity and celibacy..........

          In this experience I entered that state sometimes called one's inner temple. It is a place of virginal purity where one meets the divine, the hand fire confirming something spiritual was present. A temple is also a symbol for a womb, a place of creativity or procreativity. There one must wait awhile, allowing what will happen to actually happen, doing only what was required of one and not what one might choose to do under the influence of the ego.
          As I was raised from the floor of the temple I moved to a point above or over the altar. What followed was a handing process, or more accurately a handing over process.  From that moment on, I was in something else's hands. This action reflects the attitude of Mary, her acceptance and commitment referred to in the previous post, 'Let It Happen to Me.' The links to my previous meditations on a shallower level are clear enough, even to the appearance of two ears of wheat on the altar.
          It is difficult to describe the sense of otherness, of disorientation combined with stability that I experienced. It was as if my ego were losing its tenuous hold on its own existence, and another part of my self were willingly and gladly changing to a new orientation, going somewhere that is no-where. And in the end, that somewhere is indeed no-where, because the symbols themselves are not that somewhere. What that somewhere truly is lies beyond description.

Footnote:          I wished to concentrate on the inner temple and what occurred there, because I felt that was the focus of my meditation. Yet in so doing I have tended to ignore the fact that just as an altar is a place of sacrifice [and not necessarily of the bloody and cruel variety], so also is the Cross. And I noted that the "gateway into the shadow of death" or into the relationship that is called prayer [the double doors of the temple], was placed where the paths in the sunlit glade crossed each other.

Monday 18 February 2019

Let It Happen to Me

          It is only in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke that the conception of Mary is described. Neither in Mark nor in John is this event mentioned. Incidentally, the immaculate conception isn't spoken of in the Gnostic Nag Hammadi scriptures either. It is almost as if the conception is something of a mythological sideshow, a literary filler-in to get the show on the road. Yet I do think that story is important because it tells us something about the psycho-spiritual Mary that lives in each one of us.
          Now unless one believes that a woman in the physical world can conceive whilst remaining a virgin, one must look elsewhere for the meaning of her conception, because as the story goes,

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow." [One might add that Joseph was not going to be involved.]

Here is biblical confirmation that Mary's pregnancy is not of the physical kind, any more than the pregnancies of Demeter or Ceres or any other fertility goddess was of the physical kind. Indeed, I have my doubts even about the existence of Mary, except as a literary figure, an armature on which to construct a myth, a story of a creation within the human psyche.
          Clearly, Mary had no choice in the matter. She was there, not to create life, but to carry life. I say again, she had no choice.

"Let it happen to me as you [the archangel Gabriel] have said."

For me, that statement speaks of submission and the complete absence of psychological denial. Therein lies the spiritual strength of Mary, that symbol of inner creation in the fertile soil of the spirit. What was to come was, what some have called, the 'Inner Christ', the true/authentic/real/higher self. Now whether our Christic Selves were always there but covered in an egoistic shroud, I am uncertain. Maybe there was a point in history when we evolved to a state when we could, if we so chose, break free from the dominion of the ego. Mary's wisdom lay in her acknowledgement of, and submission to, that psycho-spiritual evolution.

Monday 11 February 2019

Descent and Return

          As I said in an earlier post, "The Word of God" [22nd. January 2019], the Mystical Qabalah has been one of the major influences in my spiritual life. Some months ago, whilst pondering on one particular aspect of the Qabalah's 'Tree of Life', certain thoughts began to emerge. It was perhaps the beginning of the idea that the biblical New Testament gospels should be looked at from a different point of view, as if they contained a mythology of the Christ as told through the legendary stories of a certain Jesus the Nazarene.
          In my studies I find that Greek mythology is often a productive starting point for my thinking. For example, Demeter was the gentle goddess of agriculture, a fertility goddess. She was without a husband of her own and became pregnant, the story goes, by Zeus the king of the gods. When her time was due, she gave birth to her daughter Core, later known as Persephone, and also Iacchus/Bacchus/Dionysus. It is unclear to me whether these were twin siblings, or whether they represented different aspects of some wider process. In time Core, then in the form of the more mature Persephone, descended [by capture] into the underworld of Hades, to return again after three months.
          That is the story of Demeter and Persephone in a nutshell. However, the development of the fertility myth and its relationship to Christian mythology, is not the prime focus of this post. Nevertheless, to add a little meat to the bones of the story [if a nutshell can be imagined to have bones] I must point out that Demeter as the goddess of agriculture is associated with the growth of spelt wheat, the stuff of 'the bread of life'. Furthermore, there are a number of points of convergence with the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The latter also was without a husband of her own when she became pregnant by some mysterious, divine force. In time she gave birth to Jesus who grew to maturity, was executed or cut down, before descending into Hell only to return on the third day thereafter. Jesus is often associated not only with bread ["...take, eat, this is my body...] but also with wine, as was Dionysus of course.
          It seems to me that peoples of olden times committed what was most important in their thinking and culture to forms that we now see as mythology and legend. These are not just idle stories made up by ignorant peoples, but accounts of their wisdom put into words that could be read and, hopefully, understood by lay people. The stories were not required to be historically accurate, but did need to carry meanings that reflected truth. The biblical Jesus employed a similar technique by the use of parables for his listeners. His disciples, however, were expected to read beyond the parable, and understand the meanings behind the stories. I think it is almost impossible to overstate the importance that those ancient peoples attached to their mythologies, and in particular to the fertility myth that spoke of their fundamental means of survival. That being the case, the stories surrounding the life of Jesus of Nazareth, having been written in mythological/legendary form, must also have been considered as vitally important.
          And what meaning can be learned from this particular legend of the Nazarene? Firstly, I would suggest that Jesus did not die and, after descending into Hell, return on the third day. It was not he but the Christ [not an alternative name for Jesus or indeed his surname], that which lived its life through Jesus, that made the descent and return. Secondly, it was not a journey that happened only once at some far off moment in history. It is a journey which can continually be experienced through the Higher, Christic  Self. The very essence of growth of the spirit is a journey of descent and return, and that journey needs to be experienced again and again. But as St. Augustine could possibly have said, "What does it avail me if this journey is always happening, if it does not happen in me?" 

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Of Powerlessness and Belief - Part ll

          I ended Part l withe sentence, "It is like looking at starlight after the intervening clouds have passed away." Step Two of the spiritual recovery program:-

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity"

was a completely different experience from Step One. To begin with, I did not feel that I was 'doing' anything. Rather, it was about what was happening to me. Many people, both in AA and Al-anon, have difficulty with the 'Power greater than ourselves' part of the Step, because it smacks too much of God. I on the other hand, have always baulked at the expression 'Higher Power'. For me it was about finding that presence which I name God and/or the Christ. I was too desperate at that time to waste time over the niceties of mere words.  But let me return to that morning when I was told that my work on the first Step was complete, and I could take time out and ponder on Step Two.
          I have to admit that whenever I read those lovely words, "Came to believe" my throat tightens, I need to swallow hard and look away, whilst all the time refusing to deny my helpless gratitude. I have always known from that morning onwards that I was in the Presence of something divine. My repetitive, futile, controlling behaviour was over; that obsessive behaviour that had been bordering on insanity. From all that, as well as from my denial, I had been rescued. Observing the experience of that Presence I was gloriously defenceless. I think in my heart of hearts I had already made my decision about Step Three.       
          When I was young, I was constantly frustrated by my inability to do what I felt I ought to do, whilst at the same time doing what I felt I should not do. Now I began to see that morality was an empty box, a washed-out force. I longed to make changes to my personality that would get me to a point where I could spiritually 'succeed.' What a hopeless task it was; what a foolish goal to pursue; what a pointless aspiration to follow. Gradually I would become aware that changes were happening, not perhaps with my personality, but with my deepest sense of being. It is not an easy thing to describe and write about. I just realised that the changes were taking place without any interference on my part, and at a level deeper than I could consciously reach.

..........It seemed as if there were a light ahead of me which consumed my focus. It was in me yet also beyond me. I could not tell whether it was small, dim and close by, or large, bright and distant. I had no markers by which I could judge. I have never had markers by which I could gauge the proximity of God. I know only that 'It' is immensely yet gently powerful. And for all my planning, I sometimes miss out bits in my life. There is always that Presence that seems to acknowledge my commitment, and fill in the missing bits. So much of that came later, but that was the moment, that morning, to which I trace my resurrected spiritual life.
          I finally learned that logic, reason and rationality were not the name of the game. I needed to believe, trust and for Heaven's sake just try it. When that happened I was repaid with confirmation and a knowing that my commitment had received some justification. It was as if I had stepped into the darkness then, looking back, saw that sturdy, stone slabs had been placed just where my feet were supposed to tread.
          And now I find that I have rushed onwards and outwards, yet I remain here. It is as if I am experiencing the acorn whilst also being the oak tree which it will become. And all the while there are more acorns to come. Then and now; here and there; living within a great paradox in an ever-present future;  I remain, looking at starlight after the intervening clouds have passed away..........

Monday 4 February 2019

Of Powerlessness and Belief - Part l

          All the 'Anonymous' organisations, alcoholics; narcotics; gamblers etc., as well as Al-anon for friends and families of alcoholics, follow the same basic "Twelve Step Program" of spiritual recovery. There are slight variations between the groups but in general they all follow the same format. The 'First Step' says:-

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable".

In addition to alcohol, narcotics and the rest, I would add that one needs to admit powerlessness over addictive or habitual thinking. This first Step is extremely important and one which most people will not begin to work, so long as their ego insists it can cope or manage, invariably a fallacious conclusion. This Step is important for a number of reasons the first being that one voluntarily commits to the work, and 'does' something. The second Step, which I will discuss in Part ll, is more about what is done to the spiritual seeker. These two Steps are bound together so that the second almost seems to be an emergent property of the first.
           I recall one of my counsellors once saying that if you are unwilling to enter the first 'Step', you haven't bottomed out, you don't yet hurt enough. He was a recovering alcoholic. Friends and families of substance addicted people so often prefer to play the blame game. In blaming others, a classic denial symptom, they fail to see what is wrong with their own behaviour, even that there is a problem to be looked at. I know, I've been there.
          The ego detests, hates and fears change. To change is to admit it was wrong. To change is to admit that it was without real substance. It is a no-one, an emptiness. Yet the acceptance - what a huge word that is - and the ridding of oneself of psychological denial is the gateway to enlightenment and truth, and so much more.
          I would like to cite an example which is outside the usual substance-addiction field to illustrate how easily one can fall into the ego-dominated problem of addictive thinking. I take my example from current UK politics. After the Prime Minister's recent, massive defeat in the House of Commons over her Brexit deal, MPs demanded that she return to the EU and renegotiate the 'withdrawal agreement'. It never seemed to occur to them that the EU might just not be prepared to re-open negotiations. The UK government is powerless to force the EU to re-open the 'withdrawal agreement'. They would require consent, choice, on the part of the EU. Choice is not control. [It will also have been noticed no doubt by anyone observing this political process, that the blame game is in full swing.]
          Of course, the Prime Minister readily agreed to return to Brussels and she would bring back the necessary changes that would be needed to pass the deal in the Commons, or so she said. Well, she has already tried that and failed. As I recall, ex-Prime Minister David Cameron failed also. It may well be that a new deal is struck. But I say again, it will be from choice [maybe even a nasty tasting choice] not power and control that success emerges. Choice is not control; powerlessness is still there even if the political ego refuses to see.
          A good, thorough working of Step One not only reveals powerlessness, unmanageability, and the futility of the machinations of an overly proud ego, but also eradicates the psychological denial in which one has indulged. It is, in truth, enlightenment in the darkness of despair. It is like looking at starlight after the intervening clouds have passed away. But that is more properly talked about in Part ll......

Thursday 31 January 2019


          When used in the New Testament this word metanoia means change of mind, and goes hand-in-hand with regret and remorse. This was the message of both John the Baptist and Jesus when they called people to repentance. In the Old Testament, repentance appeared to mean something quite different. Interestingly I feel, this change of meaning between the two Testaments also reflects a radical change in the understanding of the nature of God. But discussion of that consideration is beyond this post.
          Repentance as used in the Old Testament is a subject much loved by low church, moralistic, bible-thumping, protestant preachers. The Roman Catholic Inquisition......well let us not dwell on their methods of restoring sinners and backsliders to orthodoxy. Of course, bullying people to recant their heretical urges is not, and I suppose never was, the prerogative of the religious. How would party politics for example survive otherwise?
          One of the essential outcomes of changing one's thinking, in essence admitting one can be wrong, is that one acquires a very different and broadening outlook on life. When one's mode of thinking has become addictive, a state which I fear afflicts most of us in one form or another, that change in thinking, which Jesus continually exhorted his listeners to adopt, can cut to the very heart of psychological denial. For me, that is the essential value of repentance. It requires experiencing regret and remorse, not difficult when that denial is displayed in the glow of enlightenment, because those twin experiences serve to aid the necessary change.
          Once the habitual way of thinking has been broken, regret and remorse will have served their purpose and can be dispensed with. To persist in indulging in them does nothing for the individual except run the risk of slipping into other dysfunctions such as self pity. And this process of metanoia will still need to be continued, for one does not become a perfect as the result of a once and forever act.

Saturday 26 January 2019

New Possibilities

          I must present this as it revealed itself to me. I was puzzled [yet sadly not interested enough for too long to investigate further] by the Church's declaration of truth about the New Testament in the face of the apparently nonsensical, illogical events detailed in that testament. I was also puzzled by the obvious contradictions between the Old and the New Testaments. How could all this be if it was supposed to be eternal truth?
          I became aware, and I am not always a quick learner of spiritual truth, that the four gospels appeared to detail a mythology of the Christ. On further consideration it seemed to me that mythology, an allegorical narrative about the gods, although close to the target might not quite hit the mark. Perhaps legends, traditional stories sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated, might be closer to the truth. The legends would tell the stories of a man, Jesus the Nazarene, seen from an inner, psycho-spiritual perspective rather than a strictly historical one. St. Paul on one occasion said that the event in Jesus' life to which the apostle was, on one occasion, referring should be seen as an allegory. Because the stories, so rich in symbolism, could be seen from an inner perspective, they might just be telling a deeper story of the Christ as it lived its life through the physical man, Jesus. Not him, but that which lives through him, St. Paul might have said.
          Suddenly, new possibilities began to open in rapid succession, too rapidly to be consigned to my computer in one fell swoop. All my spiritual investigations began to come together to make symbolic sense of what had appeared to be nonsensical, illogical events. Slowly now, I began to realise just what this New Testament to humankind might mean.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

The Word of God

          There have been four great religious-philosophical influences in my life. Each of them have had, and continue to have, a major influence on my thinking and my way of life. The first of those influences is Christianity and the Bible, inevitably so since I was raised in a fundamentalist, born again, Christian family. This has been a force both for good and for ill. The second influence is the 'Twelve Step Program of Spiritual Recovery' which started with Alcoholics Anonymous and later adopted by its sister organisation Al-Anon for friends and families of alcoholics, and also - in a modified form - by Narcotics Anonymous. Next came my studies of the Mystical Qabalah, and finally the writings of Father Richard Rohr OFM of New Mexico.
          As a child I was taught that everything should be based on the Holy Bible, the Word of God. In that tome were all the answers to all questions. No other questions existed. The Word was spiritual law, eternal and unchanging. It wasn't until much, much later that I realised that Jesus himself contradicted this unchanging law on a number of occasions. "The prophets said.......but I say unto you......." etc.. Interestingly, when the Church and certain  groups of religious adherents [incidentally, not all Christians by any means] wish to lay down the law on various matters, it seems inevitable that they turn to Old Testament law. Jesus the wisdom teacher rarely or never comes into the picture.
          But there is another meaning to the phrase, Word of God, and one which is of far greater value for the psycho-spiritual life. That Word is spoken of in the famous opening chapter of St. John's gospel:

In the beginning was the Word:
The Word was with God and the Word was God.

I say again, the Word was God, not some dysfunctional ego with divine aspirations. These words are not just idle, biblical jargon for the past but words of profound meaning relevant to modern times. The process of biblical exegesis [Midrash by ancient Judaic authorities] continues today and throws an exciting light on developing spiritual enlightenment. What a great pity it is that so many eyes, both Christian and otherwise [the religious do not have a monopoly on bigotry] still need to be opened; that there are so many who even lack the desire for that opening. Why run away from spiritual pain when the rewards are so great?

Sunday 20 January 2019

About Inner Conversations - An Archive

          I have decided to recommence writing. The surface reason for so doing is to remove the sense of needing to do this thing. The deeper reasons for so doing I am uncertain about. In any case, those reasons lie between me and my inner self. I have realised for quite some time now that putting my thoughts onto private files simply doesn't have the effect that writing a blog post has. It appears that I need to write as if someone else is watching. That observer, an internal presence, appears to be one which is best served by projection onto an outer audience.
          Much that I chose to share in earlier posts will not be produced in this present series of posts. Why would I? My internal observer already accesses that deeper, more intimate information and with 'him' it is safe.
          Thus you my readers, assuming such exist, will be looking into this new archive but with limited access. If you choose to comment, your remarks will be published as they are presented. I hope that some of you will share your experiences and thoughts with me, but there must be no sense of obligation to do so. For my part, I will write as it comes. To place any form of correctness, political or otherwise, on my writing will only block possible paths from which I could benefit. As always, I hope this approach will offer no-one any offence in any form.
          But enough of explanations, a start has been made. I must admit to feeling somewhat rusty [it has been two years since my last post], but relieved. Perhaps already some inner purpose has been realised.